Open & close is an ongoing series A look at the comings and goings of businesses in south-central Alaska. If you know of a store opening or closing in the area, send a message to reporter Alex DeMarban at [email protected] with “Open & Close” in the subject line.
Whiskey & Ramen: The owners of this downtown Anchorage restaurant say they wanted to create something special for the city.
In recent years, co-owner Nicole Cusack has traveled to Japan to study and learn how to make ramen, working under the tutelage of ramen masters, she said.
In 2016, Cusack and her husband, Jon McNeil, purchased a historic building near the corner of 4th and E Streets at 436 W. 4th Ave.
The building dates back to the city’s beginnings a century ago, and records show it was once the photography studio of famed Alaskan painter Sydney Laurence.
A major refurbishment of the building was delayed by the disrupted supply chain of the pandemic. But since at least 2020, proud contractors have been posting pictures of their work on site on social media. This has helped increase public anticipation for the new restaurant.
The end result is an elegant space where customers can grab a bowl of ramen made in minutes with noodles made daily.
Those looking for a casual spot can sit at a long counter and watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen.
For a more formal experience, customers can reserve a table and descend stairs to a subterranean but open-plan dining area. The full bar includes a selection of Japanese whiskeys.
The extra time it took to open the restaurant was well worth it, Cusack said.
“We still have many years to be open, but we only have so much time to put it together,” she said.
Menu items include Wagyu steaks imported from Japan and Australia, Japanese whiskey miso pulled pork buns, tebasaki chicken wings, and hamachi crudo, a sashimi made with thinly sliced yellowtail tuna and other ingredients.
Whiskey & Ramen opens at 5pm Wednesday through Sunday. It was busy, so it’s a good idea to make reservations, especially for customers who want to sit downstairs in the main dining area, Cusack said.
Mexico Lindo Cafe: Mini-market Mexico Lindo is planning to open a cafe next door in the former Granny B’s Cafe, a long-time favorite for breakfast.
Mexico Lindo will retain the Granny B menu that has fed generations of fans, said David Guzman, owner of Mexico Lindo.
Mexico Lindo sells Latin American groceries, as well as homemade Mexican pastries and tamales at 1201 W. Tudor Road.
The move will take place next month, Guzman said. The new café will serve new dishes, such as huevos rancheros and pupusa, an El Salvador staple consisting of thick tortillas stuffed with meat, cheese or beans and other fillings.
“We’re going to add some Latino spice to the expanded menu,” Guzman said.
Guzman said Granny B’s closed many months ago after the owners retired.
The gift gallery: A year-long closure during the pandemic allowed the Anchorage Senior Activity Center to undergo a $3 million remodel.
Among other updates, the Fairview Center now houses a newly improved gift shop.
The Gift Gallery sells a variety of products made by seniors, including quilts, booties and winter hats. It also sells handmade kuspuks.
“They are made with special love,” Ashlyn Dye, the center’s volunteer coordinator, said Thursday of the handmade items.
The gift shop also sells donated items, some from estate sales. Only the best “gently used” products are sold, said Brianna McKibben, coordinator of the gift shop.
The range includes purses, vintage jewellery, tea towels, tableware, cashmere scarves and other items.
All proceeds from the store go to support the senior center, McKibben said.
The store is located east of the intersection of Seward Highway and 20th Ave., 1300 E. 19th Ave. It is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The hours will soon be expanded in preparation for the holidays, McKibben said.
Little Caesars: The pizzeria, also known for its chicken wings, opened in early September at 500 E. Benson Blvd., just south of the Midtown Mall. It is open every day.
close (and move)
Pangea Restaurant and Lounge: The downtown Anchorage restaurant closed earlier this month after about six years in business. Pangea owner Abraham Gallo could not be reached for comment.
The plaza across from Town Square Park at 508 W. 6th Ave. shouldn’t stay empty for long.
Gumbo House plans to move there in the coming weeks, said Gustavo Del Real Figueroa, a Gumbo House manager.
Gumbo House has been serving hearty Cajun cuisine for nearly 20 years in the historic pink house just north of the Delaney Park Strip near F Street.
The move to the ancient digs of Pangea will give the family-run Gumbo House much more space, with space for a full bar and community events, Figueroa said.
Gumbo House had tried to buy the small house where it operates, but it ultimately wasn’t for sale, Figueroa said. The home has been there since at least 1924, when the park strip was an airstrip, he said.
The gumbo house began searching for a new location and learned Pangea was available, Figueroa said. The Gumbo house hopes to one day buy the old Pangea building, he said.
It will keep its menu but add some dishes, including macaroni with blackened shrimp and cheese, Figueroa said.
The former Pangea building is orange. One day the gumbo house might paint it pink, Figueroa said.
Back Street Espresso: The popular downtown coffee shop near 4th Street and G Street will close on September 30 after three decades in business. Husband and wife George Gee and Deb Seaton are retiring.
[After 30 years in downtown Anchorage, a beloved coffee shop is closing]
The closure will open up a space for two longtime businesses across the street.
Gift shops Cabin Fever and Quilted Raven, which sell Alaska-themed quilt fabrics, will close on Oct. 1, their owner Jana Hayenga said.
That’s because their landlord, Peach Holdings, plans to construct a large building on the block. Peach Holdings has already begun demolishing the historic 4th Avenue Theater for the project after deciding it was too costly to restore due to code compliance and security issues.
Cabin Fever and Quilted Raven plan to reopen in February at the old Side Street location at 412 G St.
It will be a tighter space with two companies sharing a location, Hayenga said. But it’s important to keep them alive, she said.
“A lot of people come into Cabin Fever and don’t want it to go away, and a lot of quilters come into the fabric store and don’t want that to go away,” Hayenga said.
Sears Home & Life Anchorage: The appliances, tools and housewares store at 901 E. Dimond Blvd is closing Oct. 30 and liquidating products, a salesperson there said over the phone. The once-celebrity chain filed for bankruptcy in 2018 as shoppers increasingly bought products from other stores online. The bankruptcy has resulted in the closure and sale of Sears-owned properties in Anchorage.